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What Are the Family Ties for the Greek Goddess Aphrodite?

by Patricia Neill

Aphrodite (or, to the Romans, Venus), was the Greek goddess of love, desire and beauty. Myths of her parentage differ, as do who was the father of many of her children, but most are settled on her children and marriages. Depending on which myth of Aphrodite's parentage was believed, her siblings differ as well. Aphrodite's family ties are thus myriad, tangled and confusing, as Aphrodite mated where she wished and her children were both divine and immortal and mortal, but semi-divine.

Parents

In one myth, Zeus is Aphrodite's father.

In one version of the myth, when Cronus castrated his father Uranus, he tossed his gonads into the sea, which began foaming around the severed member. Aphrodite sprang into being from the sea foam, which is aphros in Greek, thus Aphrodite. Botticelli's famous portrait of Aphrodite riding the the ocean on a sea shell portrays the Uranus fathership. The other version places Aphrodite as the daughter of Zeus and Dione, a Titaness or goddess.

Siblings

If Aphrodite was the daughter of Uranus, her siblings would have been the Erinyes (the Furies) and her brother and sister, the Giants. If the goddess was the daughter of Zeus and Dione, her half-siblings were numerous, as Zeus was the father of many of the gods. However, as Aphrodite's birth spun two different stories, it remains unclear exactly who Aphrodite's siblings might have been.

Husbands

In an effort to prevent all the gods from warring with each other over Aphrodite, Zeus married her to Hephaestus, the god of fire and smiths. Hephaestus was apparently the steadiest of the gods, and reputedly ugly or at least crippled. He made Aphrodite a golden girdle that made her irresistible, no doubt a mistake on his part since every male who saw her desired her. Aphrodite disliked her husband and her marriage and took lovers among the gods, especially Ares, the god of war, a long-term lover. When Hephaestus discovered them, he divorced her. Later Aphrodite married Ares, but was no more true to him than to Hephaestus.

Children

Aphrodite had numerous children from both gods and men, except for Hephaestus. Her divine children with Ares were Anteros, Deimos, Harmonia and Phobos. Some myths say that Aphrodite was pregnant with Eros, the winged god of love, and his twin Himeros, god of desire, when Aphrodite came into being. Other myths reveal that Ares was the father of these two gods. Aphrodite mated with Dionysus to produce Iakkhos, and with Poseidon, produced Rhodos, goddess of the island of Rhodes. Aphrodite produced Pripos by mating with either Dionysus, Zeus or Adonis. Beroe was a daughter of Aphrodite with Adonis. The Erotes (one of them Priapos) were sons of Aphrodite, fathers unknown. Mortal children include Aeneas, founder of Rome, Astynoos, a prince of Syria, Eryx, a king of Sicily, Herophlos, a daughter who became one of the sibyls and Lyros, a prince of Dardania.

About the Author

Patricia Neill began writing professionally in 2000, spending most of her career as managing editor of “Blake: An Illustrated Quarterly.” Neill published political satire at LewRockwell.com and other libertarian websites. She also has an essay in “National Identification Systems: Essays in Opposition." Neill holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Nazareth College of Rochester.

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